Every time one man says to another, "Tell us plainly what you mean," he is assuming the infallibility of language: that is to say, he is assuming that there is a perfect scheme of verbal expression for all the internal moods and meanings of men. Whenever a man says to another, "Prove your case; defend your faith," he is assuming the infallibility of language: that is to say, he is assuming that a man has a word for every reality in earth, or heaven, or hell. He knows that there are in the soul tints more bewildering, more numberless, and more nameless than the colors of an autumn forest."
Showing What Can't Be Shown
I've been thinking a lot about tone.
How 9/10 when I switch off the T.V. or put down a book it's because the tone didn't set well with me. Or I didn't get the tone at all.
And I mean tone in all three senses:
1. Tone - quality of sound
2. Tone - attitude of place
3. Tone - harmony of color
I think most of our frustration as artists comes from not being able to nail down the tone of our original idea. It really is less about our technical skills, playing with language or paints, and more about our ability to strike that quality of sound, convey that attitude of place, manage that harmony of color. Tone.
A genuine tone is worth a thousand words.
I think the art of nailing tone is the art of showing what can't be shown. It's saying what can't be said. Reciprocating feelings that we thought were only ours--and when we feel alone in our most deeply felt experiences, that's not solitude or quirkiness or individuality, but loneliness.
We need art and must make it because it alleviates loneliness--because it is an entire place in which we may not physically live but our souls certainly do. Because art, if its tonally rich, will also ring true. And because the right tone, grim or ethereal or paunchy, will at the very least be harmonious.
The Barnstone Method of Looking at Art
Now, I don't care what your discipline is, or if you only consider yourself a hobbyist or dabbler or whatever. If you're into finger paint or write poems for your eyes only, if you fire clay pots on the weekends and jot off fan-fiction every now and then, if you make your money from graphic design or spend half the year giving lectures on the legitimacy of video games.
You should take art classes.
And whether you actually care about picking up a pencil to draw or not, you owe it to yourself to watch the currently free Barnstone Studios Drawing Systems 1. (Use the code: STAYsafeDRAW). It's basically a master-course in the relationships of art: the relationship between Western and Asian and African art, the relationships in works themselves, how artists reveal their relationship to the world with how they render their subjects.
Learning how to see/view is learning how to notice and develop relationships with the outside world. No matter your medium, it's one skill you can improve that will improve you all around.
The sad thing about the art world today is that you have to call it the Art World. Art's no longer a part of the world at large; it's segregated itself behind tastemakers and price tags. In Michaeangelo's day, art was commissioned by cities and popes and families. The Greeks used art as philosophy. Temples weren't totalitarian gymnasiums with the obligatory decorative banner and bouquet of fake flowers--they were expressions of the impossible and mysterious. Art was everyday.
How many mural artists do you know of today? Why do large works of art only show up in the same dozen or so places, all of them major cities? Today there's no natural cross-section between art and everyday living.
Myron Barnstone, a burly Air Force veteran who was the toast of Paris in the 1960s and subsequently burned or locked up most of his artwork during his long teaching career, is a great example of someone who takes art seriously while also treating his students seriously. There's no high-brow or low-brow here. There's no room for that. For his entire life, art was an uncompromising and enthusiastic work. Not a hobby. Not even just a vocation. A way of looking at the world. He didn't think it belonged to a select few; after all, everybody's got eyeballs.
The Alphabet of Art
According to Barnstone, the language of art is so blessedly limited that you'll only find five "mocks" used throughout it.
Myron Barnstone found these five mocks: the dot, the vertical line, the horizontal line, the diagonal, and the arch.
Of these five, only two are actually found in nature. The dot and the arch. There are no straight lines in nature.
Straight lines are an abstract that humans have used since before the Egyptians. They come in three flavors: horizontal, vertical, and diagonal. Any piece of art will be dominated by one of three types of straight lines.
In a piece that is dominantly horizontal, a calm and quiet mood is established.
In a piece that is dominantly diagonal, action is strongly implied. The first word that came to Barnstone's mind was phallic. This is masculine, charging with a lance and all that.
In a piece that is dominantly vertical, order is the order of the day. This is balanced, not as active as a diagonal piece or as stable as a horizontal piece. Christ in his glory is both vulnerable and authoritative. Whereas diagonal pieces dominate with action, vertical pieces can dominate with stillness.
"Portrait Mode" is another way of thinking of vertical since 99% of portraits are vertical.
Beyond the 5 Mocks, there is not much else to art. You start combining dots and lines and arches and you get squares, rectangles, triangles, all the 2D shapes we've come to recognize. You apply light and shadow and you get value. You combine these and you get 3D shapes: cubes, pyramids, boxes, cylinders, cones. And if you take all as a whole, you get the gestalt.
The Long Road to Gestalt
This essay went through so many titles, and I'm still not sure what I was trying to say. I think I want paint in my verse and play in my paint and poetry in my game design--and that, most of all, I don't end up artless in the process. You know, someone who turns their nose up at the everyday without realizing that there is beauty all around. That to me is artless, because it's turning a blind eye. If art is ever about judgement, anyhow, its about judging ourselves and not others.
So perhaps I should leave it off here, or get back to this idea some day, or make a joke--if I knew jokes.
At the very least, I hope somebody new learns to appreciate Myron today!
Until next time.
In Excelsis Deo.
To celebrate the astounding amount of free content on the interwebz (and the Corona Time allotted to us to spend as we see fit), I'm compiling expert advice from some people on my creative family tree.
First up, Japanese animation auteur Hayao Miyazaki.
Studio Ghibli's Animation Software
...is absolutely free.
Miyazaki's Custom Paint Palette
Hayao Miyazaki spent years developing his own sense of color. While each of his films uses new colors, here is the list he describes as his "base set":
Permanent Yellow Lemon
Permanent Yellow Deep
Permanent Yellow Orange
Permanent Green No.1
Permanent Green No.3
Cadmium Green Deep
Cobalt Green Yellow Shade
Cobalt Blue Hue
Rare Miyazaki Sketches To Study
You can find the link here.
It took me way too long to realize that's it's absolutely miraculous and beautiful that we have access to so much art that used to be confined to museums and private galleries.
Art is 50% observation. The more we can take the time to see and study, the faster we'll approach our artistic ideals.
Miyazaki's Run Cycle, Broken Down
How Miyazaki Got Started
Miyazaki spent his childhood reading comics and drawing tanks, submarines, planes. But by the time he hit college, he couldn't draw people!
He didn't got to college for the arts, either. He studied economics while attending a manga club that more-or-less had very little to do with drawing. As fate had it, he got his first job out of college as an in-between artist for an animation studio. While most present-day animation studios outsource for talent, back in the day you could actually learn-on-the-job by being a labor-intensive in-betweener (I still think it should be this way, but I digress).
After getting off from work, Miyazaki said he would try to practice drawing on his own--but would often fall asleep.
So, pretty much, Miyazaki learned to love drawing and stories and movies when he was a kid, went the safe route in college, and got himself a job that let him practice his craft all day long. He spent his off hours working on weaknesses or simply drawing things he enjoyed (he said in one interview that to de-stress he would spend an entire week drawing out custom airplane models).
The point is--you don't have to be a consummate artist by 17 or go to an arts school to become a great artist or even animator. It's ok to hone your skills (and your focus) at a later date.
An Easy-To-Use Studio
Hey, we humans are naturally lazy. It doesn't mean we don't want to accomplish, aren't capable of accomplishing, or haven't accomplished amazingly human things. But it does mean we need to fess up and make things easy on ourselves so we can get started on the hard things.
Miyazaki talks a bit about how he minimizes hassle in his work environment:
"If we're going to moan and groan about too many listless animated works being created recently, when the people with drive and motivation aren't assuming any risk at all, then we've got a problem too. So that's why I think there is real meaning in improving the working environment.
...In designing [my studio]...I tried to make it super easy for me to get from my desk to a conference, or to a discussion with the various production sections, or to the clean-up department.
...We actually planned a room to take a break in which we call 'the bar.' I hate to see people forced to eat lunch at their desks...Until now the [various departments] have been too scattered about to get together easily, so I wanted to create a place where they could gather and communicate with each other if need be, and even have parties. We therefore located the bar in the center of the studio so that it would be easy for people from any section to get to, and right in front of the bar we created a spiral staircase. And we will also plant as many shrubs and trees as possible around the building...hopefully, the neighborhood will be improved a bit by our building this new studio."
[ from Starting Point 1979-1996]
I hope you're finding the mixed blessings during this time.
As a side note, this site is still undergoing constant restructuring as I figure out how to represent what all "this" is (hey, maybe next time we can talk about my very first rejection slip I just got!!).
But until then, glad you were here.
In excelsis Deo.
Stealing From Monks
That's right, forced quarantines are more than just inconvenient. They point out the key similarities between artists and monks:
I think, too, isolation can teach us a few things about how we choose to see ourselves. My schedule now isn't too much different than before COVID-19; we'd been setting up shop and paperwork and training for months and then this hit. Not gonna lie, I felt stifled and stinted the first week. Then I thought--OK, what can I do now that I wasn't doing before? How can I feel really good about the time I've been given?
It usually helps to listen to smart people.
All of humanity's problems stem from man's inability to sit quietly in a room alone.
What To Do In A Quarantine
Quarantine or not, I don't see how any of those things should be separate from any artist's life. What I really mean by 'game development' is what I really mean by any art we set down to do. In James P. Carse's Finite and Infinite Games, he quotes Rank as saying, "Artists do not create objects, but create by way of objects." It doesn't matter what tool/objects we are using (paint, game engines, words), its what we create by way of them.
But if we don't sit down with them and them alone (bypassing what Pascal calls divertissement, i.e. little distractions), and if we don't have a singular goal, and if we don't believe we are the kind of persons that are capable of that goal, how can we complete anything?
Nobody really has a problem with completing things. Think about it. We all wake up, eat, work, talk. We learn an entire language by the time we're five, as well as how to walk, run, live in the present moment, and strike bargains. We equate responsibility with tying us down when really the only thing we've ever done our entire lives is be responsible. We are responsive creatures. If we weren't responsible, we wouldn't have made it this far.
The thing is, as we get older, we choose our responsibilities. And the types of responsibilities we choose depends on how we see ourselves.
Do you see yourself as an artist? As a game developer? A writer? A friend? A good person? If not, why do you expect the results of an artist or a saint?
There's nothing easy or flippant about this. It's difficult to have faith in things we can't see; that's why jealousy strikes intangible relationships, and envy intangible works, and worry intangible futures and guilt intangible pasts. You'd have to believe in something--yourself, your project, your future--to accomplish anything. Most of us only believe certain limiting things about our present and that's about it.
I'm still in the middle of untangling this myself, but what better time than during a semi-quarantine?
And what better way to develop my art that to start believing I'm an artist and then make art?
Complimentary Courses Now Available On Unity Asset Store!
All users now have access to 3 months of complimentary courses.
100 Projects, Continued
This week I'm going through this course. While Unity no longer offers certification tests for developers (and most studios don't care if you have a certificate as much as they care what you've done with your skills), I think it's a great overview of the engine. It's like an interactive manual. So next we'll be moving into projects made in Unity.
(Frost will be revisited after we've learned a few more bells and whistles).
Till next time--glad you were here.
In Excelsis Deo.
If I had to pick any genre that's going to sum up the 21st century, it's going to be cyberpunk.
Not because we'll all be melancholy cyborgs in the future. Every generation we live out the same story--we're not getting any better or any worse, I mean. Material gains ebb and flow, technology improves, but on the inside we're still telling stories about right and wrong and looking for something to worship and struggling against death. Heavy stuff, right?
I'm not picking cyberpunk based on advances in AI or robotics or building infrastructure or pollution or non-pollution or nuclear warheads. I'm not picking based on a grimdark or neonbright look at the future. I'm picking cyberpunk because it's a genre that does its best to blend the past and the future, and it does it remarkably well.
Cyberpunk is an atmosphere: shots of synthwave, a candy-colored spectrum cutting through a stormy night, cityscapes full of crowded loneliness.
Color Theory's 2018 album actually sums it up quite nicely: "The Majesty of Our Broken Past."
See, cyberpunk is a nostalgic look at the future.
What distinguishes human beings from every other living thing in the Milky Way?
Our ability to remember the past and anticipate the future.
We can even feel something about pasts and futures that never were. Being both in and out of time; a Godlike characteristic. Explains why our word is important--what's the point of a vow if you don't remember it, or if you can't even value tomorrow?
Lately, people like to say man is just an animal. An animal has no concept of marriage or investments, hobbies or glory days. When people get sick of money, or the lack of it, they usually start lumping all other obligations and responsibilities with it. That's why marriages and vows and the draft and nostalgia all get a bad rep: they are all tied up with this same thing that makes money such a bother. They matter in the grand long narrative of things. But of course, material gains ebb and flow, but certain things remain. Right? Or do we experience pangs of nostalgia because it feels like good things have an expiration date?
Well, that's up to you. Cyberpunk encompasses any worldview; it's all hypothetical, after all.
What I like about cyberpunk, regardless, is how it can't help but confirm that man is uniquely man. Stories wrapped in cyberpunk cloth are about man's inevitable forwardness; you can't have the cyberpunk genre and make it about neo-future cavemen or the loss of the power grid. Cyberpunk isn't the apocalyptic or survival genre (sure, it can be dystopian, but that's still distinctive). Cyberpunk: this is about how technology is uniquely human, how cities are uniquely human, how loneliness in a crowd is uniquely human. It needs electricity and machine language and things that are much bigger than us in order to point out what makes us, again, uniquely human.
It even questions what makes us human. In this way, its also this past and current century's most spiritual genre. One of the more common threads in cyberpunk literature is, at what point are we no longer human? Is it our bodies--is that all we are? What happens when we break those, augment those, replace kneecaps and hands and skin? What happens to our souls? Do robots dream of electric sheep?
Cyberpunk 2077 is an adaptation of the pen-and-paper Cyberpunk 2020 (you gotta admit, even writing down 2020 these days still feels like role-playing the future rather than living in the actual current year). There's something very evocative about 2020. But, of course, we're living in 2020 and we've still got clean air and bake sales, so Mike Pondsmith's vision is still just that: a role-playing game about the majesty of our broken future.
Well, CD Projekt Red's game fast-forwards us to 2077 and gives us Keanu Reeves.
Now, I'm the kind of person who spent $10 on Black Desert Online mostly so I could mess around with the character creator. So, already, a AAA release with extensive character creation has convinced me to shell out money. But, more than that, I haven't played a good and original RPG with a fully customizable PC since Dragon Age: Inquisition (and "good" is still stretching the word--but I'll save my thoughts on Bioware for a later date).
You can tell from the screenshot below that Cyberpunk 2077 also allows your character (I always think of it as "the character," I never could do the whole "I chose this in Mass Effect" or "When I took down the Reapers I felt...", dunno that just always felt wrong--the PC to me is someone I authored, not me, yeah?) to have a past.
I wrote a few entries back about how little patience I have for the "blank slate" character trend. Is it harder to meaningfully integrate backstories into a big RPG like this? Certainly. But a character without a past, or at least an implied one, doesn't drive nearly as much empathy or momentum.
And here's the other thing. Most custom-PC RPGs are lying to you. RPG. Role Playing Game. Custom Player Character. Oh, except your player character will always use force (and maybe some charm) to smooth things over.
There are very few ways that RPGs can appeal to the mass market or come up with enough content without resorting to "Clear Bad Guy Base" or "Hit 12 Bears Over the Head And Take Their Pelts." Now, before we go further, I'm not one of those anti-violence or games-cause-violence advocates. My very first video game experience was my dad beating the crap out of me on Ready2Rumble. Nobody really wants a bloodless story. Bloodless would imply that nothing is at stake, that there is no force or passion or momentum in your story or your game.
And don't get me wrong. People play these games for the cool factor. It's like being the hero in your own action movie. Thankfully, 2077 has got you covered in way more cool factors than just kill la kill: hacking, racing, boxing, martial arts, stealth, etc., etc.
But here's what I like about Cyberpunk 2077 right off the bat: the game can be completed without taking a life.
That tells me this game is going to have real options, which is what I really care about in a role playing game. I want to have a somewhat-finite story with enough sandbox elements to let me bend and shape the narrative around my character and their experiences, so that when I remember it, I'll remember how me and the game told the story together. And, also, so I have replay value if I ever get around to playing it a second time.
Here's another thing in Cyberpunk 2077: you're allowed to fail quests. Failure is just a different ending, not a fake ending.
Often, there's no incentive to fail in a game. And you might be thinking, well, why should there be an incentive to fail? I think of it from a narrative standpoint: in a story, we are always rooting for the hero to win, but we instinctively know that in order to win he has to fail. Are you interested in a walking simulator of Frodo and Sam heading to Mt. Doom, or did you get caught up in the war, the old loyalties, the deaths of countless good characters? What would Lord of the Rings be without the spiritual death and renewal of Frodo at the end? Not Lord of the Rings, anyway.
Besides, who hasn't rooted for the underdog?
Video games have almost always played out as power fantasies. I'm not saying Cyberpunk 2077 won't be that, and I'm not saying power fantasies are a bad thing. But I love seeing different stories told in my favorite medium. Failure often doesn't get any interactivity, and I'd love to see how failure plays out in 2077.
Also, there's going to be a motorbike from Akira.
But you know, more than anything, I'd be impressed with an RPG which could give us the equivalent of Blade Runner's "Tears in Rain" scene.
I think that's what we really want when we say we want games to be "cinematographic". It's in producing, not just a power fantasy, or a dynamic world, or a custom character, though all of these are exciting and unique to the medium. But the creation of moments is infinitely more difficult, more fragile, more tender.
It's the moments of tenderness in cyberpunk that get me the most: all that soft fleshiness beneath the wires and plating, the soul music still present in synth-wave, the tears in rain.
If You Just Wanted The Gist Of Things, Here It Is
Alright, there's a lot to love in cyberpunk and Cyberpunk 2077, so let's try to sum up everything before this turns into a book:
10 Other Beauties To Release This Year
13 Sentinels: Aegis Rim - Hand-painted nostalgia-laden mech/school simulator
Humankind: 4x strategy with unlimited combination of cultural influences
Yes, Your Grace: a Kickstarter-funded management-RPG about being The King
Eastward: a dual-character action-RPG w/ puzzles, dungeons, quirky locals, and stunning art direction
Crusader Kings III: Medieval Dynasty & Game of Thrones Simulator, Upgraded
Across the Grooves: an interactive graphic novel with an emphasis on music, set in a magic-realism universe
The Last Night: your cyberpunk fix, but in pixels
Rune Factory 5: The Comeback Kid of Cute Fantasy Farming Life Simulators
Haven: A Non-Cheesy Video Game Romance In Space
Persona 5 Royal: Ok, Ok, You Still Can't Play As A Female Joker, But There's A Ton of New Stuff
Spiritfarer: A Light & Lively Take On Being Death's Ferryman
In short, cheers all around for 2020.
Thanks for stopping by. Glad you were here!
In Excelsis Deo.
What follows is all the things this author has failed at.
I feel cheery as I type this. Like getting ready for a tall glass of cold water after a hot, muggy, impossible day. Like a nice rinse on top of it. Getting cleaned up, clothed, rested, before putting on brightness and warmth and trying again, more humanly this time, until we need to take a glass of water and rinse off all the non-human stuff again. Non-human stuff. Bitterness, polemic, sarcasm, curses, regret.
The rite-of-passage for children becoming adults is, increasingly, no longer a valid driver’s license or a road trip or a hair on your chest—it’s nodding sagely at the notion that “we’re only human after all.”
Only human—as though joy or satisfaction or a small job done well were not the most human things.
So that’s why we’re admitting our failures right now. To stop identifying with the failures. We’ll end up admitting them again. I want to rinse this stuff off and try again. And not have any baggage when it’s time to learn something new.
Failing upward—I like succinct phrases like that. But here’s more a mouthful, more a fine broth that gets better the more you let it settle and simmer:
Jakoś to będzie.
Yakosh toe benjay.
That’s Polish for (essentially): “Act, without worry, for it will all work out in the end.”
An active (act without worry) and a passive (it will all work out) promise. Works and Faith.
Let’s start again, listing times we’ve acted and failed, because we’re going to act again. Without worry. For it will all work out in the end.
Here’s the Author’s personal professional failures. The reason for listing these isn’t to throw a sad Internet party. Like I said before, this is all about the cleansing effect. There’s another word for that, a Greek word: catharsis. Catharsis is the “cleansing and purging of the emotions.” It’s that feeling of your feelings being in order after watching a good drama or laughing with friends.
Of course, stories do catharsis best. That’s what stories are for. So I hope you find some hope from my story.
The formula is: A) list a failure, B) list a rewrite of that failure, C) try and do the same with yours, D) list your small and big wins too.
1. Wrote three uneven novel manuscripts, started but never finished dozens of short stories, and the only thing I’ve submitted and had published were two poems.
Rewrite: Finished three novel manuscripts, actually finished two or three short stories and learned lots of writing practice from the rest, decided that I wanted better for myself so now I’m pushing toward a deadline for a short story contest at the end of this year, and hey! Someone actually published my writing.
2. Started learning coding on Udemy and then stopped. Twice. In fact, I’ll link the course. Each time I keep stopping on the choose-your-own-adventure section, because I’m a perfectionist and I want to create a story that I can show off (on this website).
Rewrite: Nothing is stopping me from finishing that Udemy course. And it’s what got me started on this game dev journey in the first place. Without it, I might not have tried to self-teach myself at all.
3. Tendency to pick up hobby for a number of weeks and get through 2/3 of a course or a book and then stop for a few months, in pursuit of another hobby I left off a few months before that, leaving gaps in learning and feeling like a perpetual intermediate beginner.
Rewrite: I’ve now started a blog where I have a lot less leg room to go traipsing off into the woods, and, if I do go off the beaten path, I can document what I learned here and have a bread crumb trail back to the main path when that particular jaunt is done. I’ve created a new paradigm to get stuff done in. And though I’m ready to learn things in a faster, more organized, thorough manner, at least what I’ve learned so far is still there, a thin foundation, a few steps closer than I was before I started any of this haphazard learning. And learning is learning is learning.
4. Quit my day job, had a plan, tweaked the plan, forgot the plan, still don’t know what I’m doing.
Rewrite: Got a new job that’ll let me meet new people and still leave me time to write and learn. Adopting a new mindset: jakoś to będzie. Will be honest about my mistakes. Don’t see myself staying in a slump. Patience.
5. Moodiness. Inconsistency. Not walking the talk.
Rewrite: I know what I work on. Consistency is all about right now, day-by-day. I’m walking the walk right now. And when I’m moody, I can always listen to “Fresh” by Kool & the Gang.
That list could be longer, but it doesn’t have to be. That’s the sum of my main mistakes, and I’m sure yours fall in the same types of categories. Not my categories, but your particular habitual categories. Maybe you struggle more with workaholism, or not taking yourself seriously, or you simply don’t have the time to pursue your dreams right now, because you’ve got people to take care of, and it’s going to take some time to work things out.
Jakoś to będzie. Jakoś to będzie. It will all work out in the end.
In Excelsis Deo.
What It Feels Like To Get Off Track/Fall Off The Wagon/Sail Alone
Start. Stop. Cold feet. 30 Day Challenges with only 19, 10, 7, 3, 2 days marked off the calendar. Good intentions, meet Bad Indigestion. And a gremlin that comes out of nowhere and insists that your optimism was all a sham and you’ve always been a pessimist, come join the dark side, we have cookies that will make you feel temporarily better and incrementally worse. Wanting to change your writing style, your lifestyle approach, your mentors, your outlook, your plan of action. Stopping because this makes you feel dumb, bored, insecure, cold, lonely. Stopping because maybe you’re enjoying this TOO much, getting TOO far ahead. Fear of success? You’d heard of it once and thought it ludicrous. But now you know what it means.
Oh, hello there.
This is the entry for all you Eternal Beginners out there.
Does this sound familiar? You’ve got a goal. It lines up with your core values, your dreams, who you are. You’ve got the time, the money, the interest, the resources. You’re learning coding, or drawing, or a foreign language. You pay for lessons, download an app, order a book, brush up on concepts you’ve learned before. You remind yourself of past successes—the early morning appointments you’ve kept, the awards and recognition, the promises kept, the right characteristics, the right intentions.
And it’s working. You’ve put in Day 1. Smashed Day 2. Humped through Day 3. Had a flash of inspiration on Day 4. Told your family breathlessly on Day 5. Took a mini-break on Day 6. Felt refreshed and got twice as much done on Day 7. And the wheels fell off on Day 8.
This is the entry for all of you who’ve rode a Goal Wagon with the wheels falling off.
This sucks! You don’t have time to fix this wheel, you’re supposed to be plowing ahead! That seven-day race toward that already distant goal? Feels like a waste now, stuck here in the mud, not even sure how to put the wheel back on, since you don’t know how it came off in the first place.
This could be a challenging test or quiz or project you’ve gotten to, a milestone, that supposedly tests all you’ve learned so far, but you swear you’ve never learned ANY of this. How are you supposed to put two and two together when they’ve thrown in an elephant?
And then it starts raining. You know, you’ve got the Storm Clouds. The Blues. And you watch the clear track of progress get all muddied, first by the rain, and now, it’s all muddled in your mind’s eye, behind that curtain of tears. Tears of frustration or anger or remorse—c’mon, we all cry on the inside, even if we don’t always cry on the outside. And nothing can bring on those particular tears quite like watching ourselves get further and further off course. The track gets lost in the mud. We stumble forward but the wagon doesn’t ride as smooth as it used to (you know something is still missing, that the best you could do was a patch job and that little thing you don’t understand grates on you every time you hit a new bump in the road and the wheel threatens to roll away yet again). And what’s worse, the path before you is no longer so clearly delineated, and the path behind you is getting harder and harder to remember.
Has it really only been two weeks since you started this crazy journey?
Besides, look at all those pioneers over there. They hardly ever lose the wheels on their wagon, and if they do, they know all the buzz words that can get them out. And they have connections. To experts. In fact, they’re not hobbying it up like you do; they’re professionals. They get bit? They suck out the poison. They lose their way? They draw up a new map. They stumble into a trouble area? They call in a knowledgeable buddy. And you feel alone. And foolish. And cowardly. Because you’re ready to pack it in. Maybe you’ll get back to it in a couple months. Maybe a couple years. Maybe, maybe, you’re ashamed of that word, so you keep it hidden like a middle name. But having Maybe as a middle name is even worse. It’s always there, taunting you, a part of your identity you can’t shake. A middle name like Gaylord or Dorcas. You’ve made it a part of you now. You’ve made it a part of your name. I’m so-and-so, the quitter, the maybe, the wannabe, the hobbyist, the some-gotta-win-and-some-gotta-lose-so-I-guess-I’m-the-loser. You think if there’s a place in this current society for you, it’s Anti-Hustler. You don’t have the sweat equity, kid.
This is the entry for all you Anti-Hustlers out there.
First, A Bit About Me (Then A Bit More About You)
As an American, I'm a big fan of the American Ethos: Work Hard, Work Smart, Wear Your Heart On Your Sleeve (But If You Have To Cry, Cry Into Your Pillow At Night Gosh Demmit).
There's no irony there. I think I'm being truthful. That's the American Work Ethos as I understand it.
And I lived by it for the first twenty years of my life. Then something caved in around that time. Sordid details? None really, and besides, we're not here to be down together. We're here to stand up together.
And whether you're visiting this plot of internet country from an American or an Estonian server, there's a current in modern culture we're all familiar with right now: the Hustle Culture.
But, my friends, if you've read this far, you're wondering what the heck I mean by Anti-Hustler.
And what this blog is going to be about.
To be an Anti-Hustler is to embody this adage:
"Dance to the beat of your own drummer."
Do you feel like you don't have what it takes because you've never gone "full tilt" on your dream? You didn't quit your day job (OK, I did that, but there's a Failing Upward blog you should check out that illustrate how that doesn't necessarily mean insta-results or insta-pride or insta-satisfaction...), you didn't go back to school, you didn't even finish the YouTube tutorial you started. So you start hearing this, on the internet, from frustrated family members, from your monkey mind:
1. "You just don't want it bad enough then."
2. "If you hate your job, just quit. Who cares what people think? Do what you love, what you want!"
The author has personally said these things, or nodded her head from time to time. Not just to herself. To others. To friends (I've got an apology planned this weekend).
Dear Reader, I'm going to start this pilgrimage of penance by NOT saying any of these things to you.
Because we aren't hustlers. We're more like pioneers--this is wild country for us (for me, it's about writing and coding and where those two overlap), and we're going to take our time and work hard because we want to make a life here.
What These Scribbles Are For
This site is an author's website. But this author is not just a pioneer, she's an apprentice. There are lots of experts talking about the topics I'm going to talk about. And I've got my own small pockets of expertise to share.
But this is also a site about the Beginner's Journey: putting down stakes, making claims, small wins.
Eternal Beginners. Eternal Pioneers.
Or finishing a short story--and sending it out for publication.
Or just getting your email set up to your website, because I'm still not sure I'm doing it right.
If there are stops and starts on Day 8, at least they'll be documented.
That's what these Scribbles will be about, in a nutshell.
To start this off, they'll be a nice daily burst here at the beginning, followed by more scheduled updates on Mondays and Saturdays at 11 a.m.
We'll learn it together.
In Excelsis Deo.
NOTE: To improve my pixel art, I've decided to do the terribly ambitious thing of creating a custom pixel piece for each blog entry (or in this case reshading one I'd already done). DOUBLE NOTE: For the sake of sanity, they may be small, but I'll at least try to make them relevant.
K.W. writes novels, short stories, the occasional ode, game scripts, and (with actual evidence!), this here blog.